Poor network experience drives churn in Brazil

Opensignal analyzed the mobile experience of Leavers — those Opensignal smartphone users who moved to a new mobile operator in the last quarter of 2022. We observed that Leavers spent more time with no signal on their old operator compared with the average experience of all users on their original mobile operator’s network. Looking at the experience of our 5G users before they switched operators, Leavers generally observed slower overall download and upload speeds on their old operator, compared to the network averages.

The Leavers on all three major Brazilian operators — Claro, TIM, and Vivo — spend substantially more time with no signal than the average reported for all our users on those operators in the last quarter of 2022. The gap was bigger on Claro and Vivo’s networks, with Leavers spending 1.1 percentage points more time with no signal than the network average on both. Former TIM customers observed a smaller — yet still statistically significant — gap of 0.4 percentage points.

To track potential improvements in mobile network experience for our users after switching often called “churning”, Opensignal looked at Leavers’ experience in the last 30 days on their original mobile operator’s network. Then we compared these results against their experience during the first 30 days following the switch to their new operator. After switching, both Claro and Vivo churners enjoyed significant improvements in the percentage of Time with no signal, of 1.2 and 1.4 percentage points respectively.

However, TIM Leavers spent more Time with no signal after moving away from their old network — increasing from 2.4% to 3.5%. Our TIM users saw the highest score for Availability — the percentage of time our users spend connected to 3G, 4G, or 5G services — in the last Mobile Network Experience report for Brazil, so it is not surprising that subscribers moving off TIM would see an increase in the proportion of time with no signal.

The Brazil national average was 3.1% of the time with no signal in the period analyzed, while Claro and Vivo’s Leavers’ spent 4.3% and 4.7% time with no signal, respectively. We looked at the proportion of each of Brazil’s operators’ users that spent over 5% of their time with no signal — a threshold set above both the national average and Claro and Vivo’s Leavers’ averages.

Opensignal segmented our users by the amount of time they spent with no signal on each of the main Brazilian operators, to indicate those at a higher risk of churn due to the limited availability of signal. Looking at those who spent more than 5% with no signal in the last quarter of 2022 — the proportion ranged from 8.5% of users on TIM’s network to 12.4% of Claro’s and 13.7% of Vivo’s users.

As we have established a link between Leavers and the proportion of time with no signal they experienced before switching operators, it is important for operators to analyze the proportion of users with a high no signal percentage. 4.8% of users on TIM’s network suffered from Time with no signal greater than 10%, while these proportions were even higher for Vivo and Claro — 8.1% and 8.9% on Claro and Vivo’s networks respectively. 

We observed that across Brazilian cities — Brasília and all 26 state capitals —​​ over 10% of users remain with no mobile connection for at least 5% of the time across different carriers. While this is the case for TIM users in four Brazilian cities — more than one out of ten Claro and Vivo users struggle to connect to a mobile signal in 14 and 7 cities, respectively, out of 27 cities analyzed. There were only six Brazilian cities where less than one out of twenty TIM users had time with no signal for more than 5% of the time.

Aside from the higher than the network average lack of mobile signal, Leavers also observed generally slower speeds than the network average. Looking at Download Speed Experience, churners on all networks saw significantly slower speeds before they moved — with differences ranging from 2.4% below the network average for TIM users to 4.6% and 6% slower average download speeds for Claro and Vivo, respectively. 

The story is different for Upload Speed Experience, although Leavers on two networks still experienced slower speeds than the networks’ averages. Claro Leavers had 6.5% slower average upload speeds, while those who left Vivo’s network — 2.3%. However, Upload Speed Experience for TIM Leavers showed no statistically significant difference compared to the network average.

Since mid-2022, Operators have rolled out 5G networks in the 3.5GHz band in Brasilia and state capitals, which resulted in average 5G speeds rocketing almost overnight, Opensignal also looked at the overall Download Speed Experience for 5G users who changed their mobile operator between October and December 2022. We observed no statistically significant difference for Claro between the experience of 5G users who left this operator and the network average on their original operator. However, the differences were much more pronounced for TIM and Vivo — 5G user Leavers observed 17.2% slower average overall download speeds on TIM’s network and 22.3% slower on Vivo’s network.

Looking at the Upload Speed Experience — 5G Users for 5G users who changed their mobile providers in the last quarter of 2022 observed significantly lower experience on Claro and TIM’s networks — with their average overall upload speeds being 11.8% and 8.8% slower than the average for 5G users on each operator.

Tracking churn remains essential in the fast-changing market

Opensignal previously analyzed churn in Brazil in September 2021 — however, the market landscape has significantly changed since that time. 5G is continuing to revolutionize the Brazilian market as 5G services extend their reach to more locations and users with accelerated roll-outs in the 3.5 GHz band. The full effects of the Oi sale are still having market impacts, with Claro, TIM, and Vivo absorbing the millions of new subscribers that have migrated from Oi. This means retaining existing customers and competing on network quality becomes even more essential for Brazilian mobile players in this fast-changing environment. Opensignal will continue to analyze Leavers’ experiences to provide further local insights in the future.